Sunday, September 20, 2015

Long time in the Making - New York Deli Rye Bread

As promised, I am posting an occasional recipe and keeping a rather more laid-back pace. No more weekly posts, just good tried-and-true recipes for good honest bread. This one is a loaf I have been baking for a while, but have only just today gotten it to the point where I can say it is worth posting. I've been tweaking it, and taking it through various modifications and adaptations. Finally, it is where I want it to be.

If you have ever been to a true New York deli, (or Montreal for you Canadians) then you know what I am talking about. Nothing says deli better than real honest-to-goodness rye bread. With caraway baked right in. Although I am now a vegetarian, in my carnivorous past there was nothing better than New York or Montreal smoked meat or corned beef on REAL rye. These days, I still eat rye only with Dijon-style sharp mustard and an aged ceddar or other strong cheese. Maybe a tomato. Either way, this bread won't disappoint. It is adapted from The Bread Bible by Rose Beranbaum Levy, one of my all-time favorite cookbooks. Try it, you'll love it. The bread, of course, and also the cookbook.

Here's What Youl'll Need: (for the starter)
3/4 cups (117g) of bread flour
3/4 cups (95g) of rye flour
1/2 tsp. instant yeast
1 1/2 Tbs. sugar
1/2 Tbs. malt powder (or honey, or sugar)
1 1/2 cups (350ml) water at room temperature

Make the starter:
1. Mix together all of the ingredients. It will look like a thick batter. Set it aside to ferment for at least an hour and up to 24 hours. If leaving it longer than a few hours, then put the plastic wrap covered bowl in the refrigerator overnight. Let it come to room temperature before going on to the next step.

(for the dough):
2 1/4 cups (350g) bread flour
1/2 tsp. + 1/8 tsp. (2g) instant yeast
2 Tbs. caraway seeds
1/2 Tbs salt
1/2 Tbs. vegetable oil
cornmeal for sprinkling

2. Whisk together the flour, yeast, caraway seeds and salt. Gently spread this mixture over the top of the starter, covering it completely. Cover the bowl and let it sit to ferment for about 3 or 4 hours to develop flavor. Some of the starter may bubble up through cracks in the flour mixture. That is perfectly fine. Don't sweat it.

3. Either by hand or with the dough hook of your stand mixer, mix it all together to make a ragged dough, then knead for about 10 minutes vigorously to make smooth, barely sticky dough. Place this dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turn to coat, then cover for the first rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.

4. Shape the dough, gently so as to keep some of the CO2 inside, into a fairly tight ball, and place it on a corn meal covered baking tray. Cover it to let it rise a second time.

5. About 30 minutes before baking time, preheat the oven, with a baking stone if you have one, to 450F (about 220C). Place a metal tray on the floor of the oven while heating the oven.

6. When the dough has risen, and the oven is hot, place a good handful of ice cubes in the tray, then place the loaf in the oven on the baking stone (if using)after slashing the loaf with a sharp serrated knife a few times about 1/4 inch (3mm) deep. Close the door quickly to keep the steam in.

7. After 15 minutes, reduce the heat to 400F (about 195C) and bake for another 30-35 minutes until golden brown. Your kitchen will, by now, smell heavenly.

8. Cool completely on a rack before slicing.

9. You can thank me later, for now, enjoy!!! :D

Monday, July 6, 2015

Change of Pace - Cranberry (Raisin) Pecan Bread

Hello Everyone!
Yes, it has been a long time, a year in fact, but I am returning to Breadmantalking, after a much needed break. The hectic, self-imposed schedule I set for myself, no doubt is to blame and so this time around I plan to do things a little differently. Occasional posts, instead of weekly for starters. And more variety. By that I mean the focus will be on baking but not necessarily bread. Maybe some bread 'cousins' like muffins, and biscuits and scones. I am hopeful the new focus will make Breadmantalking even more rewarding than it was before.

In that vein... I bring you a special bread that has variations but always comes back to this. Dried fruit and roasted (toasted) nuts chopped coarsely incorporated in a soft not-overly sweet dough. It is perfect for breakfast or brunch. And goes nicely in the evening with a green salad. This recipe is adapted from one I found online at Allrecipes, which if you don't know it, you should. A great recipe site with literally thousands of recipes, tips, videos etc. It's all there, and these guys really know their stuff. Be sure to check it out.

Here's What You'll Need:

3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans (or other nuts - walnuts, filberts or hazelnuts work just as well)
3/4 cup dried cranberries (or other dried fruit - I was out of cranberries so I used raisins. Dates or apricots would work too.)
3 cups AP flour
1 cup water
3/4 cup sourdough starter*
1/2 Tbs. salt
1 Tbs. melted butter (or non-trans margarine)

Here's What You'll Need To Do:

1. Toast the nuts in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Be careful to remove the pan when you begin to smell the aroma because of the oil in the nuts they will burn quickly and become bitter.

2.Cover the cranberries or other dried fruit with warm water and let stand to rehydrate while you prepare the dough.

3. Mix the flour with the water, mix to form a rough dough with ALL the flour incorporated, then cover and let stand to rest for about 30 minutes.

4. Mix in the starter and the salt, then knead vigorously until the dough is smooth, only slightly tacky, and elastic. This will be about 5 minutes in a mixer or about 10 minutes by hand.

5. Drain and dry the dried fruit then knead it into the dough along with the nuts. Finally place the finished dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turn to coat, then cover. Let the dough rise until doubled. If you are using a true starter, this can take 4 to 6 hours. If using a poolish*, it will be less, say around 2 hours.

6. Without deflating the dough, shape it into a ball, or an oval and place on a parchment covered baking sheet. Cover and let it rise again until doubled, about 1 more hour.

7. About 20 minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 375 F (about 190 C).

8. Slash the loaf just before placing it in the oven. If you want a chewier crust then you can add steam to the oven by placing an aluminum tray on the floor of the oven with a cup or so of boiling water in it while it bakes. Bake for about 35-40 minutes.

9. Cook completely on a rack.

*Sourdough starter - many bakers swear by sourdough and use nothing else for rising bread dough. While the process of making and maintaining sourdough starter is not too difficult, it DOES require your attention and self-discipline. Otherwise, how to say this gently, the sourdough simply dies. In order to achieve very similar results, both French and Italian bakers over the yeayrs have developed techniques that replicate the taste without the hassle. The French 'solution', called poolish, is quite simple. Make a solution of equal parts water and flour and add only a pinch of instant yeast. It will be very liquid (100% hydration, after all). Let the mixture stand at room temperature, covered, over night or at least for 5 or 6 hours. It will be very bubbly and have a tangy aroma. Mix this into your dough, taking into account the amount of water in the poolish. The rise will still be slower than using only yeast, but the taste will be virtually the same as 'pure' sourdough, without the hassle.

For this recipe I mixed 3/8 cup flour with 3/8 cup water and 1/2 tsp. of instant yeast. The next morning it was good to go. In the winter, it is best to let it sit 24 hours if your house is cooler.